The big reasons to choose wisely when it comes to tea

The Good Life Letter 

14th August 2016

Today I would like to offer some advice about polyphenols, and where to find them.

Depending on your age you might be thinking I’m reworking a Monty Python sketch (this is an ex-parrot, hello poly-phenol!) or offering a reference to Pokémon Go (if you have to ask then you’re too old was the response I got from my own brood when I sought an explanation!).

But neither is the case.

I want to open the discussion about why these specific compounds should be on our wanted lists, and why once again the effects of big corporations are denying us the chance to enjoy and benefit from them.

You see, back in the halcyon days of the British Raj, our forefathers knew all about polyphenols and enjoyed their health giving properties on a daily basis – or at least they really enjoyed a jolly good cup of tea.

That’s right, the health giving properties of pure tea derives from the phenolic aromatics it contains, and the range of them imbues the restorative powers of our national drink.

Or that should be the case if we were allowed to have pure unmolested tea that was made from the finest young leaves, prepared and dried naturally then sealed to prevent spoiling in the air.

But of course this doesn’t make for the nice fat profits that the global tea brands want.

They prefer to blend teas, and cheapen production and transport costs as much as they possibly can.

What beggars belief though is that they even make a virtue of this, and we have trotted along taking it all in and therefore losing so much in the process.

Here’s how to make your next cup of tea one that your body will be proud of

Black tea – nature’s healing brew

Polyphenols are the natural compounds found in tea leaves which provide so many major health benefits.

They include catechins, theaflavins, tannins and flavonoids, and provide the flavour, aroma and mouth feel of the drink itself, defining the particular qualities of the tea when brewed.

However, these compounds are easily lost if the leaves are not treated with the greatest care as they are harvested and processed.

They are most abundant in the very apical buds of the tea bushes; however many commercial plantations also use older tea leaves which are not so rich in phenols and also contain higher levels of contaminants such as fluoride.

Only the very finest tea producers use the youngest leaves.

Next on the destruction process is the fact that preserving the phenolic content means drying the leaves gently then lightly hand rolling them before vacuum packing them within the day they are picked.

The larger estates overdry the leaves, crush and fragment them in huge mechanical processors, mix them with other leaf products and chemical compounds to bulk them out and finally pack them in open topped boxes ready for shipping.

All the time the precious phenols are evaporating into the atmosphere.

By the time the crop is reprocessed in the UK, packed into tea bags and sealed into shrink wrapped cardboard boxes the resultant drink is as far removed from real tea as it is possible to get.

Certainly no self respecting true tea drinker would contemplate the turgid brown fluid that results as fair representation of the clean, clear and beautifully aromatic drink the tea bush is most famous for.

So how can you ensure that the tea you drink is both delightfully refreshing and powerfully restorative and healthy?
Well by seeking out the very best in artisan tea and treating it with the reverence it deserves of course.

This is why you should be drinking pure Kosabei tea every day

The way to health is through a perfect brew

So having explained the existence and nature of polyphenols it’s time to discover why they are so important.

Firstly the importance of this class of compounds has been sparking huge scientific and medical interest in the last few years and there is even an international conference on polyphenols and health now in its seventh year, where the great and good come together to share the latest research.

What is driving the interest and research is the phenomenal results that are being seen from diets rich in this class of anti-oxidants in respect of cardiovascular health, gut function and even in fighting cancers.

Here are some of the topics from this year’s conference in France to give you an idea of how wide the research is going:

•    Polyphenols and the gut microbiome
•    Polyphenols and cognition/neurodegenerative diseases
•    Polyphenols and cardiovascular diseases
•    Polyphenols and obesity/metabolic syndrome/diabetes
•    Polyphenols and cancer
•    Polyphenols and healthy aging
•    Polyphenols and gene regulation and cell signaling
•    Polyphenols and oxidative stress and inflammation

In each of these topic areas the news is good and getting better for those who have increased their intake of phenolic compounds, with the scientists demonstrating how key they are in preventing some of the major health problems we face.

Best of all though are the moves they are making to try to get food processors to preserve polyphenols in their products so that even more people will get the benefits. However, they report that many big companies don’t want to listen.

The response from major food producers and retailers is that anything which increases cost of production, processing, storage or transport isn’t going to happen because that hits the bottom line.

Where the experts are getting favourable responses though is from the smaller artisan growers and processors who love the chance to show how they can add real value to their product and steal a march on the big boys.

Having great news to tell about the health, freshness and purity of a product means that they can, at last, vie for a place in the market which is dominated by the big three companies – Unilever (PG Tips, Lyons & Lipton), Tata Group (Tetley) and Associated British Foods (Twinings).

So I think it is about time we voted for a proper cup of tea with our feet and maybe then the tide will change and force the retailers and major players to adopt a better, more environmentally considerate and health benefitting point of view.

Enjoy one of the finest, purest and most natural teas available in the UK

Yours, as always


P.S. Because tea is the most widely drunk beverage in the UK you might like to use the Regular Saver offer for your purchase as this will provide you with a regular supply either every month, three months or six months and a significant saving of 10% into the bargain. Choose the Regular Saver option at checkout – it really does make sense.

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